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Tapping trauma away

Reading time: 4 minutes

Two decades ago, frustrated by his unsuccessful attempts to heal his
patient’s fear of water, which she experienced viscerally in her stomach,
psychologist Dr Roger Callahan decided to tap on an acupuncture meridian
associ-ated with the stomach. Astonishingly, in an instant, her fear of
water disappeared-and Thought Field Therapy (TFT) was born.
Like Dr John Diamond, author of Your Body Doesn’t Lie and perhaps the first
practitioner to understand the relationship between acupuncture meridians
and negative thought patterns, Dr Callahan has developed a protocol for
tapping on acupoints in a specific sequence together with eye movements that
activate different parts of the brain.
TFT rests on the idea that thoughts are not the result of neurological
electrical signals or chemicals but, in fact, generate a field that is able
to store information patterns
or ‘perturbations’. When people suffer emotional upsets or traumas, these
fields become activated and ‘hold’ the entire emotional experience.
Following his success in using TFT to heal traumatized victims of wartorn
Kosovo (WDDTY vol 18 no 10), Callahan’s organization set up the Association
for Thought Field Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization. Its
volunteers provide energy medicine for individuals who have been traumatized
by war, genocide, poverty and natural disasters. So far, trauma relief teams
trained in the Callahan Technique of TFT have assisted trauma victims in New
Orleans and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in Mexico
after major flooding, and in the Congo and Rwanda to treat survivors of
Twelve years after the genocide in Rwanda, four TFT therapists went to El
Shaddai orphanage, an abandoned warehouse that is both home and school to
some 400 orphans, many of whom are genocide survivors. Most of the children
had wit-nessed the murders of their families, relatives and close friends;
in some instances, they were the only survivors of an entire village. Many
were also suffering from intense symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD): nightmares and flashbacks, bedwetting, depression, withdrawal,
aggression and/or difficulty concentrating.
As the team was small and only there for four weeks, they had to see all but
the most traumatized children in groups or in class. Through an interpreter,
they also taught the children and teachers at the orphanage how to do the
tapping themselves.
Although the team expected to take at least one hour per child for an
effective treatment, as it turned out, most were successfully treated in 15
to 20 minutes in a single session. When the team evaluated the children over
the following days for any evidence of PTSD symptoms, most of the children
were clearly vastly improved.
The following year, the TFT team returned on the anniversary of the genocide
and assessed all of the treated children again. To their surprise, the
children showed no signs of PTSD. The children and teachers had continued
with the treatment, and some of the children had even worked with each other
in groups.
The children were “transformed”, says TFT team member Caroline Sakai, a
clinical psychologist at Kaiser Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, who has
treated PTSD with more traditional treatments as well as TFT. “The teachers
reported that the children had increased self-esteem and feelings of self
worth. Many who had felt victimized and had a sense of hopelessness now had
hope and more pride in their surroundings.”
A number of the children passed their competitive exams and went on to
regular secondary schools; the teachers also found a marked decrease in
bedwetting and fighting.
The results of three of the Association’s studies are in the process of
being published. After all the PTSD suffered by servicemen and women in Iraq
and Afghanistan, the US and UK governments would do well to take heed.
Lynne McTaggart
For more information, visit

Let the good times roll again

One 15-year-old Rwandan orphan was three years old at the time of the
genocide. Her family hid her inside a church and, when the killers broke in,
the girl’s father told her to run and not look back, no matter what. She got
away, but turned around when she heard her father’s screams-only to see her
father being hacked to death by men with machetes.
Every day since, she’d suffered flashbacks of the scene in her waking hours
and dreamt about it every night. In fact, she had no good memories of her
family; the trauma had blocked them out.
During her treatment, she cried as she worked through each of the traumatic
events while tapping but, at a certain point, she began to laugh. She’d
suddenly remembered how her father had sneaked sweets for her, even against
her mother’s wishes.
Later, when she tried to re-direct her focus onto the events that took place
in the church, she said, “I can still remember it, but now it seems like a
distant memory, like 12 years ago”. That night, her sleep was uninterrupted
with no nightmares for the first time since her father’s murder, and she
arrived at school the next day in cheery spirits. Since then, memories of
the good times have flooded back.

Vol. 20 08 November 2009

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